• Giancarlo DiTrapano
    August 13, 2010

    Aug 13, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Is Andrew Morton's biography of Angelina Jolie the worst book of the decade or just the "worst book of the 21st century so far"? Such are the weighty matters pondered by Allen Barra at Salon; you can practically see Barra pout as he points out: "this Jolie junkie found practically nothing that I hadn't seen before and mostly dismissed as utter crap. Much of Morton's research seems to have been done while standing in supermarket lines." Which—for all the charm of Salt and Girl, Interrupted—is where we do most of our Jolie research, too.

    Pete Hamill's new book on immigration will be strictly

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  • August 12, 2010

    Aug 12, 2010 @ 12:12:00 pm

    For the first time in a decade, Time magazine has put a living author on its cover: Jonathan Franzen. Anyone with an Internet can see an abbreviated version of the article, titled "Great American Novelist." For the full version, you need to buy the magazine at a newsstand or on your iPad.

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  • Charlotte Roche
    August 12, 2010

    Aug 12, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Move over Justin Bieber: Rolling Stone has announced that Jay-Z's memoir, Decoded, will be published by Spiegel & Grau on November 16.

    German novelist Charlotte Roche's international bestseller Wetlands (published in the U.S. in 2009) is about 18-year-old Helen Memel, a sex addict admitted to a hospital for an anal fissure, who, while she's not picking and eating her scabs, recalls things like the time she left a used tampon on an elevator. Now, Swiss author Bruno Barett is publishing Responding to Wetlands, a semi-fictional book in which he pretends to meet Helen and psychoanalyze her.

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  • Michel Houellebecq
    August 11, 2010

    Aug 11, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The great French smoker Michel Houellebecq has gained an international audience writing misanthropic (and yet somehow emotionally complicated) novels about sex tourism, asexuality, terrorism, anhedonia, and the grimmer sides of the contemporary human condition. The books are good, but he's just as well known for his bad-boy persona—drinking, smoking, and flirting with women reporters. One might wonder what his next novel's shocking subject will be, but the answer is obvious: He'll write about himself.

    J. C. Hallman, the author of In Utopia, sums up why people write dystopian novels: "

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  • John Waters
    August 10, 2010

    Aug 10, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The Huffington Post's hit-mongering list of the 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Authors somehow manages to be sensationalistic and banal at the same time. John Ashbery? Louise Gluck? Junot Diaz? Really? Over at PW, poet and Bookforum contributor Craig Morgan Teicher has started an alternate list: Who are the most underrated authors in America? We agree with his opening sally: Stephen Elliott. And then there's Blake Butler's 15 "Towering Literary Artists" Who Are Still Alive, though sadly, that list has lost two of its members since it was published last year.

    Role Model: Laptops are

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  • Tony Judt
    August 09, 2010

    Aug 9, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Historian, political theorist, and public intellectual Tony Judt died on August 6 at the age of 62. Much more than a scholar, he was an eloquent and insightful writer, whether he was reflecting on postwar Europe, navigating our current economic and political challenges, or chronicling his experience of living with ALS. Always a vibrant thinker, his literary output only seemed to increase as his health deteriorated. He blogged at the New York Review of Books until last month, and was recently interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR.

    Illness has struck too many intellectuals lately, among them

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  • Joan Didion, circa 1970
    August 06, 2010

    Aug 6, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    People have been complaining about the banality of author photos for years (here's what the Times had to say about author-pic cliches back in 1993). Perhaps because the old-fashioned book (along with its carefully designed jacket) is losing its dominance, people are now not just decrying boring photographs but offering advice to writers seeking a publicity shot: Get a makeover. You want our advice? Skip the Estee Lauder and channel the spirit of Joan Didion in her author photo for Play It as It Lays, circa 1970. She is not playing. (Extra credit: seek out nondigitized photos of Jane Bowles

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  • August 05, 2010

    Aug 5, 2010 @ 9:30:00 am

    Taylor Plimpton, the 33 year-old son of the late, legendary editor and man-about-town George Plimpton, recaptured a bit of his dad's reveling spirit last night at a party and "literary salon" celebrating Taylor's new book Notes From the Night: A Life After Dark.

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  • Geoffrey O'Brien
    August 05, 2010

    Aug 5, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    The Awl offers a list of McNally Jackson's most-stolen books, which reveals that either (a) the people shoplifting book is a rapidly aging demographic or (b) young shoplifters need to improve their reading tastes.

    Critic and novelist Janice Harayda lists the 5 Most Overused Put-Downs in Book Reviews.

    If you're in New York tonight, you can catch a reading by Bookforum contributor Geoffrey O'Brien, who will present his new book, The Fall of the House of Walworth, a true story of patricide and madness in Gilded Age Saratoga.

    Separated at birth? The cover for Eric Toussaint and Damien Millet's

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  • Jennifer Egan
    August 04, 2010

    Aug 4, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Barnes and Noble has put itself up for sale as annual profits have decreased dramatically over the past three years, from more than 135 million to about 36 million. Barnes and Noble chairman Leonard Riggio, who founded the chain in 1965 with a single store in New York City, is said to be a possible buyer, though the price is still in question. As analyst James McQuivey put it, "How do you value an asset for the future when the entire market is being essentially turned upside down?"

    Bookslut blogger Jessa Crispin writes a public letter to an author who, in response to a negative review, has

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  • Brooklyn's Greenlight Bookstore
    August 03, 2010

    Aug 3, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    New York magazine has a feature on the city's indie bookstores, including a breakdown of sales and operating costs for Brooklyn's Greenlight Bookstore (they actually make a profit of more than $11,000 a month), a poll of some NY authors’ favorite shops (Jonathan Ames praises BookCourt for allowing him to have a knife-thrower at a recent reading), and recommended fall titles from booksellers.

    Always look on the bright side of life: Tim Martin of the Telegraph, granted access to the British Library's recently acquired J. G. Ballard papers, found a cheering note in the manuscript margins of the

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  • Brooklyn Book Festival participant Kate Christensen (Photo: Jon Lewis).
    August 02, 2010

    Aug 2, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Details of next month's Brooklyn Book Festival are starting to be announced. There's a stellar lineup of authors slated to participate in the free September 12th event, including many of the borough's best authors and some national and international recruits.

    Some credulous Californians are suing Apple because its ad copy says "reading on iPad is just like reading a book," but it isn't—especially if you try to read an iPad in the sun.

    Internet doomsayer Nicholas Carr reports that "our hyperactive online habits are damaging the mental faculties we need to process and understand lengthy textual

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